Silk scarves from Thailand

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In my endless hours of research, I came across breath-taking images of silk scarves, looms, and a story about a group of artisans in a village of Isan (North East Thailand). This group of artisans work only with silk, only from local silkworms, the silk is organic – all the processes from mulberry tree to final rinse are chemical-free. They use only natural dyes – from plants and insects. In a nutshell, it is all organic, fair trade, culturally and environmentally sound, empowering to the artisans.

The group of artisans is led by an American anthropologist with a heart of gold who is dedicated to helping them survive and beyond that, thrive, using dyeing and weaving skills native to where they live that have been passed down for many generations. Some of these techniques are in danger of extinction.

I first emailed the anthropologist simply asking if they would be open to talking to me about doing custom work for a project I was working on. Little did I know, that from that first message I sent on October 6, 2011, would blossom a beautiful exchange of knowledge based on technique and history related to silk weaving and dyeing and many, many conversations about tradition and style and a true love for the art of working with silks in this region. I truly learned so much and am eternally grateful for the attention, dedication and professionalism I have experienced in working with this group to create the first group of Pashen Collection ikat silk scarves.

With the anthropologist as our intermediary, acting as a director/manager on their behalf and translating back and forth, the artisans and I worked together and the result is a group of gorgeous silk scarves.

I wanted to work with natural dyes that would result in varying shades of blue and gold.

The gold/bronze color was achieved by using jack fruit.

The blue and blue/grey shades were achieved by using indigo.

The shapes I wanted to incorporate in the motifs were diamonds, hearts, arrows, and the naga serpent. I gave them direction but I also wanted them to add a bit of their own magic to each piece and they did just that.

The dyeing technique for the gold/bronze silk scarves is ikat + float weave.  The dyeing technique for the indigo pieces is ikat. Some pieces are similar but because they are hand-dyed and crafted, no two pieces are exactly alike.

The indigo silk scarves measure approximately 36 x 36 inches and can be worn as head scarves, cowled around the neck, wrapped around the waist or even wrapped around the bust (like a crop top). The gold/bronze scarves are approximately 80 x 30 inches and can be worn many different ways as well. Each and every scarf is a very special, handcrafted piece of art.

Phat spinning

Nok doing ikat

A close-up of ikat tying


More dyeing

Saat weaving

Indigo blue ikat scarf

Indigo blue and grey ikat scarves

Bronze/Gold ikat scarf